Wanting to get more reach out of my EF 70-200/2.8 L IS USM

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by martin_jordan, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. I searched all over the lens forum and saw a lot of articles on this subject but non of them addressed what I needed. So if I'm being redundant please forgive me.
    I have a EF 70-200/2.8 L IS USM with a EF 2x II Extender, mounted on a 40D. With this set up I get 5.6 in the morning shooting beautiful Red Cardinals. I gain the extra lighting I need by using compensation and it works fine. BUT...I would like to have more reach. I'm shooting approx. 30' - 40' away. I would love to get a 500mm or a 600mm lens and use with the extender but don't have that extra cash.
    I've read a lot about different set ups, using tubes, diopters etc., and quite frankly I don't know enough to understand it all and connect the dots. And besides, a lot of that info. was concerning Macro shooting.
    So, with this camera set up of mine, what could I add (if anything) to this rig to increase my reach and get in closer?
    If you could please try to be specific so I can understand.
    Thank you so much in advance.
  2. Unless I'm missing something, I don't think there's any other option available for you to get "more reach" out of your 70-200mm other than your 2x converter. A 50D would give you pixels to crop into, but if I were in your situation and wanted a really long lens, but didn't have much cash available, I would look into a mirror lens.
    Mirror lenses are fixed aperture optics, manual focus and can be found at very low prices. They have some weird optical characteristics (they render out of focus highlights as donut shapes), but definitely give you a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to getting in close.
  3. Diopter lenses and extension tubes will allow you to focus on objects closer than the lens would normally focus. But that's not the problem you're trying to solve. There are two ways you can solve the problem. 1. More focal length. 2. Get closer. I suspect that option 2 is a non-starter because you'd have already done that if it were an option.
    Option 1 is tougher, budget-wise. The most direct way is to get a longer lens. But that's pretty expensive if you stick with the Canon family. You could use something like a 400mm along with your teleconverter, but the effective f-number would be too large for the auto focus. You could still focus manually, however. The next step up (500mm f/4) is wonderful, but it's huge and about as expensive as a nice used car. You'll see things advertised on eBay like 600mm-1300mm zoom lenses. Pure junk. I don't think you'd like them. You'll also see mirror lenses in the 500mm range. They may be workable, but they also give fairly nasty images.
    If you come up with a good solution do post some of your images. We'd love to see them.
  4. Hey John B.,
    You mentioned mirror lenses. Can you suggest a couple just for me to see what you're talking about there and learn more?
  5. Tamron have a 500mm f8 Mirror lens that Bob Atkins was pretty impressed with - it's around $400 or so. It's obviously not up to the IQ of a Canon 500mm but is a LOT (A WHOLE LOT) cheaper. Sigma have a 600mm f8 lens that retails for under $400 and can be gotten off e-bay for $200 or so... user reviews are positive, but I haven't seen a real test... There are many budget 1000mm mirror lenses that I have no idea how they perform (I would imagine not too well)!
    It's a crapshoot, I'll grant you - but if you are looking for maximum focal length at minimum cost, this is an option worth considering. Google for reviews and prices and I'm sure you'll turn up a lot of information.
  6. Martin,
    I used the 1.4X on the 100-400 and lost my auto focus capability. With the push/pull zoom and the manual focusing, I did not like it at all. The images turned out okay, but I am sure that if I had used a big prime, (400mm 2.8), I would have been happier with the results.
  7. Kenko does a 3x TC (you can usually find them used at KEH) which is probably the cheapest way to get a 600mm lens from your zoom. I have never used one on an SLR so I cannot comment on the quality but I am not very impressed with the Canon 2x (the 1.4x is much better). I did once have a Kenko TC for a medium format Pentax 6x7 and that was a reasonable performer. Otherwise you want a mirror lens or cheap glass. Be aware that mirror lenses are very soft.
  8. Here is Bob's test of the Tamron 500mm Mirror lens.
    I am no champion of these things - never used one, let alone owned one - but I think if you can get past the weird bokeh, it might just suit your purposes for a while...
  9. The 70~200/2.8IS with the Extender 2x is not a great combination according to many postings, and in particular the 100~400 is considerably better at 400mm. But if you can afford a reasonably expensive lens I would suggest the 300/4IS and a 50D body (or even a 450D). Using contrast-detect AF in Live View, that combination will AF at 600/8 with your Extender 2x and produce what will probably be better results at 600mm than you are currently getting at 400mm. And if you buy an Extender 1.4x it will give you an excellent 420/5.6 that can use phase-detect AF.
    But thirty to forty feet? There are plenty of ways of getting much closer to small birds than that, and they are much cheaper than the cost of more kit.
  10. Robin is right. t's much, much cheaper and will give you much, much better image quality if you get closer rather than use a longer lens.
    Even if you had to buy a blind, it would be cheaper and better!
  11. Simpler thing (seriously) is to draw the cardinals in closer with a feeding station. Start off with it where they are now and gradually over a week or so bring it closer to your shooting position.
  12. Another cheap option if you have a back-yard, is to build a bird house you will be surprised as to the variety of birds it will attract, especially in the spring. The only problem is you got to figure out a way to keep the squirrels away which is not easy. The problem with anything longer than a 300mm is that you have to let the birds come to you instead of the other way around, because the lens is so heavy. You definately need a steady tripod and who wants to go around all day lugging a heavy lens and tripod. Another problem is that the longer the lens the harder it is to obtain focus.
    Tell you the truth a 400mm lens, or longer is good when whatever you are photographing is predictive such as sports. With sports you pick a spot and let the action come to you with birds it's a whole nother story. The birds pick up your smell in the wind and they see you before you see them(especially if you are sweating). They usually only come out during dawn and dusk, occassionaly making a brief appearence around midday, so if you don't have a fast lens forget about it.
    I would say that 600mm is probably around right the 300mm F4 with a 1.4X extension plus 1.6X of your 40D would be a great combination. I can't comment on the mirror lenses, because I never used one, but I saw some pictures taken with these lenses and they are not that bad.
    By the way, there are some parks like "Butterfly World" in Fort Lauderdale Florida that house their own exotic birds. The birds are kept in beautiful fenced enclosures where you can really get up close. I took some great pictures of birds there with a measly 135mm lens.
  13. Of course most mirror lenses won't auto focus and have a wafer thin DoF.
    Most of them are very hard to use.
    (I've got one, I use it for fun but not when I'm making "art" or serious pictures.)
  14. If you do a lot of this work, you would be better selling the 70-200 f2.8 and buying a different lens altogether such as the Bigma (Sigma 50-500). The Bigma is not in the same league as the 70-200 f2.8 but it should be far superior at 500mm compared to the 70-200 + the 2x extender and it will blow away any mirror lens. I have the 70-200 f2.8 L IS and tried it with the 2x... it is not good. For the money you'd get for your 70-200 f2.8 you could buy a brand new Sigma 50-500 AND a Canon 70-200 f4L. Then you'd have the best of both worlds without using an extender. Not only that, you'd also retain autofocus at all focal lengths.
  15. "The 70~200/2.8IS with the Extender 2x is not a great combination according to many postings, and in particular the 100~400 is considerably better at 400mm."

    "The Bigma is not in the same league as the 70-200 f2.8 but it should be far superior at 500mm compared to the 70-200 + the 2x extender"

    What 'should be' and 'what is' are often different. While I normally don't recommend converters/extenders, the 2xII is the first one I have used that actually works (delivers really good image quality). I have tested my 70-200mm (non-IS) with the 2X II at 400mm against my 100-400mm (my favorite lens) at 400mm. I found image quality to be remarkably good with the 2x II, and pretty much equal to that of the 100-400mm. I am not saying the IQ is identical but the 2x II delivers such high IQ on the 70-200mm that many would be quite satisfied with it.
    I happen to have just purchased the Bigma 50-500mm for my Nikon gear and although I find the IQ good, I don't know if it is quite good enough (for me). I am undecided as to its usefulness at this point, especially at 500mm which is the only reason why I bought it. I have done some basic testing and will do more extensive testing in the future. My guess is that because of the small difference in focal length between 400mm and 500mm, the 70-200mm with the 2x II will possibly give at least as good and maybe even better results than the Bimga at 500mm (my subjective opinion). Ultimately if you are making prints no bigger than 8" x 10', I don't know that you would see any differences between any of the combinations.
  16. All the supertelephoto options available on a limited budget involve manual focus. The highest level of image quality with a manual focus lens is achieved by using Nikon manual focus lenses on your Canon camera using a cheap mechanical lens mount adapter from China. The problem with mirror lenses is the poor image quality and fixed aperture.
    For the price of a Canon EF 100-400/5.6 L IS you can get a Nikon 600/4 AIS lens from keh.com, and for the price of the Canon EF 400/5.6 L you can get a Nikon 400/3.5 AIS, again at keh.com. Priced in between the 600/4 and 400/3.5 is the Nikon 400/2.8. If you had to you could add a Nikon TC-14B which is a 1.4x converter. The 400/2.8 and 600/4 are superb and still very good with the 1.4x converter. The 400/3.5 is not as good but still much better than your 70-200/2.8 L IS with 2x converter.
    You have to learn how to manual focus and you have to use your camera in Manual mode or Aperture mode, where you set the aperture manually on the lens and let the camera select the shutter speed. Your Canon will meter with Nikon lenses. You could also buy the much more expensive adapters that provide focus confirmation with the little light in the viewfinder.
    I used manual focus Nikons on my Canon film and digital SLRs before switching to Nikon bodies. You can actually adapt many lens brands to Canon EF bodies including Zeiss/Contax, Leica, Olympus and Pentax but I chose Nikon since they are readily available and of very high quality.
  17. it is so tired to look these things ! have a nice day,everyone!
  18. Elliot,
    I am surprised you get decent results of the 2x coupled to the 70-200 f2.8. I bought the 2x and sold it a month later. The quality was dire. Maybe I got a bad one but even with my 1.4x I am not 100% happy when it is used with my 70-200. I ended up buying the 300mm f4 which is fantastic. The 1.4x coupled to the 300mm f4 is a great combination and gives great results.
  19. Elliot and Jamie I have the (non-IS) 70-200 F2.8 and the 1.4x and 2x. I find that the 1.4x degrades quality but is workable and probably better than a cheap 300mm lens. the 2x definately degrades performance (but will still better a mirror lens)and really damages AF performance (at least on my EOS3, 1NRS, EOS1V and 5DII) it is usable but not great. I also have a 300 F2.8 which is an amazing lens (much better than the 70-200 and 1.4x but it should be for the price) the AF is super fast and the IS really works on this lens (i am not really abig fan of Is but it helps here).
    To Martin's original question I just got the Feb KEH brochure in the mail. A Kenko 3x is not cheap $144, so not much less than a cheap mirror lens (like the mirror you will not have AF with this slow a lens / TC combination). After this you will be in the $500+ bracket. I tried the Sigma 170-500 zoom on a freinds Nikon (APS-C) and was very unimpressed by it - the viewfinder was really dark and difficult to use.
  20. OK. I am little hesitant to put this out on a camera site, but here goes. There is the Boy Scout, non-optical solution. Build yourself a little blind for you and your tripod setup. It does not need to be fancy, or substantial. Just not look like a human. Stick frame and cloth, refrigerator box, and so on. Then, you can be really, really close and get a good quality image.
  21. If you are near a major city with a good camera story, you can rent a lens for the weekend. There may also be internet rental services. Renting is a much cheaper than buying...
  22. "Renting is a much cheaper than buying..."

    In my experience, buying new then re-selling on FeeBay is even cheaper than renting! Not only that, you can keep the equipment as long as you like.
    For example, I paid £1225 for a new 70-200 f2.8L IS two years ago. Used examples are curently fetching £1100+ on FeeBay in mint/excellent condition. Two years rental for £125... not bad!
    Buy a lens on your credit card, try it for a fortnight then resell it. By the time your credit card statement arrives you'll have sold it and have 99% of the money to pay off your credit card bill.
  23. Their are lots of off brand Mirror lenses available.I picked up one one Ebay for $50.Thinking how bad can it be for occasional use.The qualiyty was brutal even for shots that were not important. Maybe the Brand names are good but these lenses are quite limiting with fixed slow dim apertures and manual focus.Maybe if you are shooting fence posts in good light and using a tripod but not for sports or wildlife. It was a cheap lesson for me. Even with better glass I would find this lens style very limiting. I am sure their are some who use these lenses and have learned to work around the shortcomings but you will find it frustating,
  24. I use canon 5d plus 300mm lens plus 1.4 or 2x extender and i cant get the reach i want mostly rare !but all i do is to crop the shot in photo shop and with digital the results are ok mind you i am using the canon 5d with a 5d mark ll it would be better still but in anycase the ISO must not be to high no more than 600 ISO and you can alawys sharpen the image , this method that i use has been ok for me ,digital is very good for this method film would not be good results if you did the same cropping ! and this method is cheeper than buying a 800mm canon lens and lighter to carry !cheers.
  25. Well everyone, thank you much for the tips. I decided to go with a Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens since I couldn't pump up my 70-200 anymore. That was with my price range right now and achieved a happy medium.
    I've shot about 100 photos today with it and think it's going to be just fine. I just wish I had auto focus with the 2 x Extender
    I shot a red cardinal male this morning with this new lens. see attached photo.
    Shot with a Canon 40D, 11.0, 1/20, Exp. Comp +1-1/3, ISO 100, 750mm w/2 x Extender, manual focus, tripod.

  26. Looks like you found a good solution. Excellent!

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